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Men’s Oxford Shoes Guide

Do you think to know all you need about men’s shoes, especially about Oxford shoes? We all know that choosing a low-quality shoe or one that doesn’t fit our clothing style can ruin even the best outfits. This is why, years ago, we prepared a short guide for you where we illustrated the main types of elegant men’s footwear, also indicating the differences between them.

If you missed it, we strongly suggest that you read it again!

Today, however, we want to help you understand how to wear Oxfords, the most elegant men’s shoes by definition. A complement to menswear that every gentleman should possess, regardless of the season’s trends or personal style. In fact, they combine charm and versatility.

Here’s all you need to know about men’s Oxfords, also called Balmorals.

How to recognize an Oxford shoe

We already said it, but we prefer to repeat it. You can recognize and distinguish an Oxford from a Derby by looking at the lacing:

in the first, it is closed, since the vamp is sewn above the tongue. In the second, instead, it is open, since the quarters are placed over the mask.


Therefore, while wearing the first the shoe will have a leading role, with the latter the socks as well – much more visible – will conquer the stage.

Are Oxford shoes different from Brogues?

Men’s Oxfords can also be Brogues. This is because this term indicates a shoe with a decoration made by small perforations. Therefore, even the Balmorals – by virtue of their closed lacing, as we explained above- could also have this additional element to characterize them.

Why then are so many people falling into error? Those who think that Oxfords and Brogues are mutually exclusive, while mistaken, are certainly misled by the DNA of the former. These, in fact, are born with a smooth appearance, a thin silhouette and a shiny appearance. It is therefore not that strange to think that a Brogues’ identifying decorative element identifying could alter an Oxfords linearity.

We could say that Oxford Brogue shoes are a variation on the Oxford theme, designed for a more dandy look or at least less adherent to traditional patterns.

Therefore, it is understandable why purists, in keeping with the “simpler, more elegant” rule, would advise against wearing this type of footwear with elegant clothes during social occasions.

Are Oxford shoes just black?

Black Oxford shoes are the most elegant, however, they are also produced in other colours, such as brown. This tone does not diminish its charm but pushes towards their use during daytime occasions (especially in the presence of light shades). Brown balmorals, for example, can be combined with a grey or dark brown suit during a Sunday lunch.

brown suede men's oxford shoes

In the presence of White Tie, Black Tie and Black Tie Optional dress codes, however, it is mandatory to wear them in black, as previously mentioned in another article.

For important business meetings, we advise using black Oxfords. We believe that no man should be without a pair of black Oxford shoes in his wardrobe. They are probably the most versatile shoes to own and can be combined with almost any colour for an elegant and formal look.

When should you wear a pair of Oxfords?

The versatility of Oxford men’s shoes allows you to wear them both in formal and casual contexts. Much, in fact, will depend on the colour chosen and the combination with other garments.

Formal occasions – Thanks to their shiny appearance, Oxford shoes are perfect for formal events and events in which clothing with a sartorial flavour is required. For a seriously sophisticated look, make sure you choose a high gloss black pair. Alternatively, polish the pair in black leather to perfection. Also, keep in mind the width of the shoe. As a general rule, styles with more slender soles appear more elegant than ones with wider soles.

Casual occasions – You can use Oxford shoes for a variety of informal events, such as lunches, parties and more. In this case, pay attention to the type of trousers chosen. Being formal footwear, to follow the casual spirit of the context, choose more informal trouser styles. For example chinos or raw denim and dry denim jeans.

What we recommend wearing with your Oxford shoes

DARK BLUE TAILORED SUIT WITH OXFORD SHOES IN BLACK LEATHER Dark blue tailored suit with oxford shoes in black leather – Look business attire men #SS19

Apart from all the dress codes, that we already mentioned, in which the Oxford shoe is mandatory, the ideal combinations are with trousers able to recall their elegance, like tailored trousers, or to dampen them intelligently, like chinos. Even jeans can be worn with these shoes, but with due caution.

With tailored suits – Thanks to their elegant and sophisticated aesthetics, Oxford shoes are the perfect partner for formal clothes. So, pair them with tailored trousers. To choose the colour and navigate yourself around the many styles available, ask yourself where you are going and at what time of the day the event takes place. A pair of brown Oxford Brogues can be worn with made-to-measure clothes, but not for a Gala dinner on a hotel rooftop!

With chinos – For an elegant and fashionable casual look, the combination of Oxford shoes and chinos is a fantastic choice. Make sure that the shades of both work well together. For example, chinos in navy blue, brown or sand can easily adapt to brown Oxford.

With jeans – Although Oxford shoes are elegant, they can also be worn with a pair of jeans on two conditions. First: the denim must be very dark and solid, not faded by particular washes. The style must also be “dry” (skinny, slim, straight?). Two: wear a shirt and a jacket over the jeans. You won’t go wrong.


If you have arrived all the way here, we hope to have answered all your questions. If not, let us know if there is something you want to learn more about, by writing to us at  or by commenting on this article.

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